Google brings free WiFi to New Yorkers

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Wi-Fi

It seems Google is feeling generous. The world’s largest internet company is offering free WiFi access across New York city’s Chelsea neighbourhood, by creating the largest public outdoor network in the city, reports Bloomberg.

The project is a partnership between the search giant and non-profit organisation Chelsea Improvement Co. It makes sense that the company chose Chelsea. The neighbourhood is home to Google’s New York offices and several tech startups. The network aids the internet giant’s effort at cultivating “Silicon Alley”, a concentration of startups in Manhattan.

“New York is determined to become the world’s leading digital city, and universal access to high-speed internet is one of the core building blocks of that vision,” said New York city mayor Michael Bloomberg. “Free WiFi across this part of Chelsea takes us another step closer to that goal.” The network will be accessible to a sizable chunk of Chelsea.

“Google is proud to provide free WiFi in the neighbourhood we have called home for over six years,” said Ben Fried, Chief Information Officer for Google, in a statement. “This network will not only be a resource for the two thousand-plus residents of the Fulton Houses, it will also serve the five thousand-plus student population of Chelsea as well as the hundreds of workers, retail customers and tourists who visit our neighbourhood every day.”

According to Bloomberg, building the network costs around US$115 000 and will take about US$45 000 a year to maintain. The bulk of the cost will be taken care of by Google while the Chelsea Improvement Co. will pay the rest. The service will be operated as a pilot program for two years, said Dan Biederman, Chelsea Improvement’s president.

Google has been partnering with operators around the world to provide free internet access in third world countries with projects in South Africa and Philippines with its Free Zone programme.

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